Inspiration (and no I don’t use the obnoxious non-word ‘thinspiration’)

You might think that the only inspiration to lose weight is to stop feeling fat and to stop having others think of you primarily as fat. I don’t care what anyone says to the contrary, when you’re fat, that’s how people think of you first and foremost.

I don’t know if that’s always true for men, but it is for women. A lot of people try not to give you the once over or be obvious with that look absorbing and recording your heft, but nobody’s that good at hiding it. That look always embarrassed me, and part of my desire to lose weight was never to see it again. Maybe I’m wrong. I have been known to be a bit sensitive to it. But my feeling on this has been confirmed by many people’s comments who knew me when I was fat and then saw me again when I was thin. That ‘shock and awe’ they exhibit is proof enough of my theory.

Then there’s the part where you sort of become invisible which seems counterintuitive when you’re a pretty big person. Unless you’re willing to make people look at you as more than your fat, your fat is your de facto defining characteristic. You become just that fat girl. Maybe if you’re lucky you get some good qualities attached to you like “funny” or “smart” or “assertive.” (Be careful that assertive doesn’t turn into bitchy, because then you get labeled as ‘fat bitch’ a common and unoriginal insult for big women everywhere who refuse the invisibility role.)

So avoiding all that is the primary reason to lose weight. Don’t let anyone tell you they’re just trying to be healthier and don’t even really care about the number on the scale. That’s just a lie. I can’t stand hearing that nonsense. Good health is a wonderful benefit that comes with losing weight (unless you’re losing weight by doing something stupid like swallowing tape worms or practicing bulimia,) but the first and most important benefit of weight loss (let’s be honest) is looking better. Yes, you will feel better, and your cholesterol will go down and all of that, but most importantly you will fit into cuter clothes and nobody will look askance when you dare to eat your lunch as if to say, “fat people shouldn’t be allowed to consume food!” Yep. People think that, and some of them even say it. Don’t look shocked. If you’re not that fat, I’m sure you’ve thought it too when seeing some tubby person chowing down.

But that’s just the reason you want to lose weight. Inspiration is another thing. Some people use clothes. Something they’ve kept in the back of their closet and want desperately to fit into again. Or something new that they’ve either bought or think about buying all the time that they’re not even close to fitting into right now.

I never really used clothes. I do have a snug pair of jeans that I try on once in a while to see how loose or tight they’ve gotten to gauge where I’m at in the ongoing war of taking off those final rascally five pounds, but I’m really a sweater and jeans in the winter, shorts and t-shirt person in the summer so clothes are not that inspiring for me overall.

Some people use an event to inspire them to lose weight. Maybe they’re going to a wedding or on a great vacation or the classic but cliché high school reunion. Everyone wants to look good when people see them again after a long while or when they travel and strangers see them for the first time. Making a good impression is important. The problem with the event inspiration is that once it’s passed do you simply go back to your old ways and weight? Or more likely, you don’t reach the goal and maybe you enter a deep depression and don’t enjoy the wedding or travel or simply don’t attend the reunion. Unless you’re just trying to lose 5 pounds or so in a month, it’s going to be tough to get there. Especially if you’re of a certain age. Yes, as you get older, it gets harder to lose weight.

I do fall into the trap of wishing that by the time a certain event or trip rolls around I will be at my goal weight. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I never want to feel depressed in Maui, because I don’t look as fantastic in my bikini as I should. (I wear bikinis now, and love taking obnoxious bikini pics to post on Facebook. #narcissism.)

But that’s never been my main inspiration either. The thing that inspires me and has inspired me all along this frustrating and lengthy weight loss “journey” (icky word alert!) is other people’s stories. I have always found joy and companionship reading the little articles in magazines like Shape and similar outlets featuring a woman who went from a big size to a much smaller size. I would never consider myself an optimist, and God forbid I would never say I’m a glass half-full kind of gal, but these stories are like crack to me. They always make me smile, and most importantly they make me feel like if she can do it, I can do it too.

These stories always include before and after pictures. I guess they didn’t view their fat photos in the same light as me. (I guess that precludes me from ever being featured…which is just fine). They give a starting weight and her current weight. There’s always a paragraph or two about how she got so big. Then there’s her low point where she makes the big decision to lose weight. Finally the payoff. What she did to lose her weight and her current exercise and diet regimen. Usually there are some tips the woman gives about what’s worked for her.

I read each of these features eagerly and thoroughly, but I don’t take the advice. I know from loads of personal experience that what works for one person, does not necessarily work for me. Sure, if she just said you have to stop eating as much as you want, and then even less than that, and you have to do it every day and it’s really, really hard, and it makes you want to cry when you see your friends eating what they want to while you have to stick to celery and carrot sticks, then yes, I’d also believe her. But none of that matters for these little articles. All I need is the evidence that someone else did it. It doesn’t matter to me that I know it’s very likely she will regain some or all of the weight. What matters is that she did it once, and therefore I can do it.

I did it before, and if I have to, I can do it again. #inspiration

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(Obnoxious bikini pics as promised!)

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